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Factory activity growth at 10-month low in November: Markit

Aircraft technicians and support staff work at Sikorsky Global Helicopters in Coatesville, Pennsylvania October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Makela

NEW YORK, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. manufacturing sector slowed in November to its lowest rate of growth since January, while gauges of new orders and output also fell to their lowest levels since January, an industry report showed on Monday.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 54.8 from October's final reading of 55.9. The reading was slightly above Markit's preliminary or "flash" PMI reading of 54.7.

A reading above 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

"Although still reasonably strong, the pace of growth has slowed for three successive months, taking it down to the slowest since January, when business was hit by extreme weather arising from the Polar Vortex. This time, there was little anecdotal evidence from companies of the weather affecting business," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

The new orders subindex fell to 55.0 from a final reading of 57.1 in October. November's final reading was slightly below the flash reading of 55.2.

Output, meanwhile, was unchanged from the flash reading, dropping to 55.6 from October's final reading of 57.8.

The drop in the main index, as well as in the new orders and output subindexes, marked their third straight monthly declines.

"With inflows of new orders slowing sharply, there's a good chance that production growth will deteriorate further in December," Williamson said.

"Unless order book growth picks up, factories will inevitably soon turn to cutting jobs in order to bring capacity down in line with weaker demand," he said.

The employment subindex was unchanged from the flash reading, showing a slight increase from October's final reading.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)